As a brand Domino’s Pizza is prepared to take risks - making it a tasty client to work with. And what’s more, it works largely with regional agencies. The Drum spoke to newly appointed marketing director Simon Wallis about his plans for the brand and the agencies it employs, digital innovations and the future of its sponsorship of TV favourite Britain’s Got Talent.
Last month Domino’s Pizza unveiled Simon Wallis as its new sales and marketing director. He joined from Papa John’s where he was senior director of marketing for the UK and EMEA, and has previously held roles at Pizza Hut and KFC.Domino’s has grown phenomenally in recent years in the UK and Wallis claims that he is joining the business at an exciting time.The pizza firm currently spends its £6m marketing budget through a number of regional creative and marketing agencies, including its lead agency Leicester-based Big Communications. It also works with Fuse Digital and it appointed DADA to handle its PR north of the border.Now the leading pizza delivery company in the UK, it didn’t open its first store in Britain until 1985. But it has grown quickly and there are now overÊ620 Domino’s Pizza stores throughout England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland.The Drum caught up with Wallis to find out his plans for the brand and the agencies it employs, its digital innovative and the future of its sponsorship of TV favourite Britain’s Got Talent.How will experience from your previous roles translate to Domino’s?
Over the last six years I hope that I’ve fashioned an understanding of marketing to customers in the home. What’s important about marketing to customers at home is to understand how to talk to them and when you need to be talking to them to allow them to make a considered purchase. Our Restaurant marketing differs; it’s more about talking to people in the street. It is important to understanding the importance of marketing within your store’s timetable and making sure that you are generating as much revenue from different parts of your catchment area and understanding where your best customers are, your prospects are and that you reach those people in those places.How have you seen the marketing in the sector develop?
Despite the fact that the sector has become more reliant and driven by e-commerce and online sales - which have grown phenomenally - the bread and butter of our marketing is still door-to-door leafleting. That said, we can now be a lot more targeted in terms of how we reach people digitally - and that’s where Domino’s has been successful in using email, pay-per-click and search engine optimization to ensure that there are relevant messages out there for the right people at the right time. It’s certainly a hell of a lot more efficient because if you can reach someone digitally then you don’t have to put any leaflets through their letterbox.Social media has been extremely successful for the brand, what do you think the brand has done right when using it as a commercial tool?
We’ve had an online ordering system up-and-running for twelve years now. We were one of the first firms to 'pioneer' the technology in looking for an additional channel to market. Because the brand has continued to innovate within the digital space it now can see a sales growth significantly year-on-year. In 1998 we were taking £100,000 a year. In 2000 we were taking £100,000 a month. We were innovating within the digital space with things such as interactive ordering on TV through the Sky platform. If you take that further forward, by 2003 we were starting to take £100,000 a week and we started to get our online ordering system and channel working more efficiently so it was quicker for our customers to place an order. We started to run PPC activity. By 2006 we were taking £100,000 a night. That’s really been benefited by national affiliate programmes that we’ve been running as well as much more tightly targeted digital activity... and by touching people at the right time with the right message. Now, through online ordering, we are taking around about £200,000 a night and in the last three years that’s where we’ve really seen social media benefiting our online sales.Domino’s is a brand which is prepared to innovate and is prepared to take risks. That is why we have been able to make social media work a little more for us. With social media, we benefit from having a pretty loyal fan base. On our Facebook page for example, we have something like 35,000 fans now. Last year we launched our Superfans promotion where customers and fans of Domino’s could nominate a friend or get other friends to join the page... the person that nominates or has the most fans registered by the end-of-the-week were given a free pizza.Another example of innovation within the space is our use of the Britain’s Got Talent license. We’ve been able to populate our social media, not just with content but also with topical commentary. We’ve benefited from the fact that something like Britain’s Got Talent is such a popular topic of conversation. So that allows us to have a very topical conversation with customers outside and promote ourselves in a more traditional sense.Will you continue with the Britain’s Got Talent deal?
We’re at a sensitive time with that deal at the moment as we’re at the end of our contract with Britain’s Got Talent and we’re in a period of negotiation with ITV and Freemantle as to whether we want to renew. We believe that Britain’s Got Talent has been fantastically successful for us, it has delivered exceptional media value and has been the most popular TV show over the last two years, so we are now taking time out to review whether it is the right things for us going forward. We haven’t made a decision yet though.Is sponsorship a channel you would look to use more following the success of the Britain’s Got Talent deal?
We’d have to look at that seriously. The brand has got a pretty good track record at sponsoring powerful and important programmes. Britain’s Got Talent gave the brand, in my eyes, a degree of stature, albeit The Simpsons sponsorship from the 90Õs gave the brand national awareness before it had the stores on the ground that really warranted that investment. If the opportunity is right we’ll take it seriously.You’ve come in as the company has announced profits and all seems to be going well for Domino’s. How daunting is that to come into a company when things are going so well?Yes, all in the garden does seem to be pretty rosy, doesn’t it? Sales have been phenomenal. Store openings have been phenomenal. Franchisees appear to be in a good position and appear to be enjoying the relationship they have, it’s fantastic and when I accepted the role of course there was an element of anxiety as to whether I could continue that success. But I do believe that there are plenty of opportunities for growth, not just across the platforms in which we are selling but also the times of day (currently predominantly weekends and evenings), but also across the estate as a whole.What have you been tasked with achieving initially?Importantly when you come into a business and a brand like this which has been doing so well is to try and maintain momentum, which means trying not to change too much and I shall be avoiding that temptation at all costs. Within the digital space I think there’s an opportunity for us to get even more innovative. There are a few things that are coming down or have just launched, such as our social media widget which give our customers the chance to earn money for referrals to Domino’s. That has launched in the last month. We have also just signed to continue to work with FourSquare, again highlighting that the brand is on the front foot in terms of digital innovation. In the next few weeks we will issue an iPhone app which will be made available free through the app store. That will give customers the ability to carry around a Domino’s store in their pocket. It’s a little bit belated if I’m honest, it should have been there long before now, but that will be there and available to the market very shortly.Generally speaking what we have to do in terms of the brand is to try and make Dominos available anywhere for anyone who wants it whenever they need it.When a new marketing director comes in, agencies expect that they will look to review. Do you have intentions to review?I’d be mad to do anything too radical or to disrupt the way that things have been going so far. Our agency partners have been key to our success and I shall be looking to continue to nurture relationships where possible. I’m certainly under no immediate pressure or willingness to review our agency relationships.A slice of Domino's historyIn 1960, Tom Monaghan and his brother, James, purchased DomiNick's, a small pizza store in Ypsilanti, Michigan. The deal was secured by a US$75 down payment and the brothers borrowed $500 to pay for the store.Eight months later, James traded his half of the business to Tom for a used Volkswagen Beetle. As sole owner of the company, Tom Monaghan renamed the business Domino’s Pizza, Inc. in 1965.In 1967, the first Domino’s Pizza franchise store opened in Ypsilanti. The company logo was originally planned to add a new dot with the addition of every new store, but this idea quickly faded as Domino’s experienced rapid growth.By 1978, the franchise opened its 200th store. On May 12, 1983, Domino’s opened its first international store, in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.Its first UK store opened in 1985. Over 20,000 team members work in our UK and Irish stores through out the country’s 620 Domino’s Pizza stores.